Whether you’re wracked with remorse or wrecked by workplace worry, our resident Festival Doctor can offer a cure through festival form.
Hello, come in and lie down on the couch.
Modern life can be stressful; it’s full of pressure and pitfalls, fretting and resentment. But after years of being dosed up by doctors and seeking solutions on the self-help shelves, can most common complaints be cured through your next holiday?
The Festival Doctor* will see you now.
Prescription: Reboot yourself at Wanderlust Festival.
Dosage: A weekend at any Wanderlust Festival should suppress some of the shame you’re feeling. Empty your mind with meditation sessions in the mountains of America or realign your chi with a sound bath in Santiago, Chile. Boasting several events, held in incredible natural venues, Wanderlust amalgamates the alternative through yoga, talks, spas, cinema, music and healthy food.
Possible side effects: Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening in the UK offers more of the same, but on a much smaller scale in July.
Prescription: Reawaken your senses at AfrikaBurn, the radical union of a creative community which convenes at Tankwa Karoo National Park, South Africa each April.
Dosage: This offshoot of Burning Man festival only springs up for a week but in that time it becomes a fully fledged society that’s keen on inclusion and counters against consumerism and uniformity. With art, performance, imaginative theme camps and transformative transport, it’s just the tonic for those suffocating in the 9 to 5.
Possible side effects: Try the UK’s Secret Garden Party in July or Burning Man in Nevada, USA at the end of August.
Prescription: A healthy dose of hilarity at Just For Laughs in Montreal, Canada in July.
Dosage: Give those ribs a good tickling at the world’s largest comedy festival, which attracts some two million ha ha hunters every summer. Some 250 comic acts, stand-ups and put-down purveyors will be theatre-testing new material, wheeling out classic lines and bringing down the house in 2014. There will also be walkabout theatre, circus acts and reels of new comedy films to chuckle you to tears.
Possible side effects: Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August is just as extensive and is famed for attracting hundreds of funny men and women to Scotland.
Prescription: A spoonful of good karma at the Maha Shivaratri in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Dosage: For Lord Shiva’s birthday, thousands of Hindus (plus plenty of curious observers) head to the mountains of Kathmandu for Maha Shivaratri. Shiva is the deity that protects existence, so there are plenty of offerings given to the sādhus (religious ascetics who emulate Shiva) around the Pashupatinath Temple, which ups the karma levels a little. In return, they bless followers, hold lectures and can be seen practising yoga and meditation as the air warms with charas (hashish) and bhang (milk with almonds, spices, sugar and cannabis). There’s a lot of calm to take away from here.
Possible side effects: Celebrate good overcoming evil in Bali as part of Galungan Hindu festival with food, dance and flowers all in abundance.
Prescription: Take time out for a Butsu Jodo-e (Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony) retreat in Japan in December.
Dosage: This honouring of the enlightenment of Buddha is held at the Rinzai and Obaku monasteries across Japan. Known as the Rohatsu sesshin, the retreat gives overworked minds some much needed rest and relaxation, as attendees meditate standing up for a full eight days. It mirrors the efforts of Buddha, who found enlightenment in the morning of his eighth day of meditation underneath the Bodhi Tree in Nepal. Practice beforehand is also prescribed.
Possible side effects: Fly to Bali for Nyepi and a full 24 hours of quiet. The ‘Day of Silence’ is reserved for self-reflection, meditation, fasting and calm.
Prescription: Find one of those fish in the sea at Ireland’s Matchmaking Festival in September.
Dosage: If you have left love to fate so far, maybe it’s time to try someone with a little more knowledge? A weekend at Lisdoonvarna’s Matchmaking Festival could be the answer as Ireland’s mythical matchmakers have been pairing lovers together for centuries. Try to find Willie Daly, a third generation matchmaker, for your best chance of everlasting amour. Those who touch his lucky book are said to fall in love and marry within six months.
Possible side effects: If you’re unlucky in Ireland, head to Hong Kong for the Seven Sisters Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. Here, romantics leave offerings at Lover’s Rock in their exploration for affection.
Prescription: Trek through the Peruvian mountains to Qoyllur Rit’I.
Dosage: Forget heading to Machu Picchu; the rewards for reaching the Qoyllur Rit’I festival can be just as grand. This colourful pilgrimage, high in the Sinakara Valley of Peru, attracts around 10,000 worshippers a year who hike up Mount Ausangate to pray. Vibrant masks, traditional music and strange rituals help bring a tented city alive on the mountainside, before the most devoted make the dangerous final ascent in darkness to pray at the top of the glacier.
Possible side effects: The beaten track can also be left behind by visiting Festival au Désert in Mali or Norway’s Træna Festival on the fringes of the Arctic Circle.
Prescription: Get nourishing food for thought at the UK’s HowTheLightGetsIn in May.
Dosage: Spend a week or so in the company of like-minded individuals (we won’t use the word asylum here) and you will see that you’re not the only one overthinking things. The world’s largest philosophy festival, held at Hay-on-Wye, will have talks, debates and classes on culture, philosophy, politics, art and science. There’s music too, if the body needs a workout.
Possible side effects: If you haven’t already, sift through the hundreds of talks on the TED website. However, if you fancy a tan, their upcoming conference in Rio de Janeiro looks particularly appealing.
*Please note: he’s not a registered doctor. He does, however, own a stethoscope.